sbpy is an astropy affiliated package that will provide tools for small-body planetary astronomers. The idea is provide a collection of well-tested and documented tools that asteroid and comet observers use on a daily basis. The goal is to improve the reproducibility of results and to make it easier for (young) researchers to try out new ideas.

The development of sbpy has just started, as our NASA PDART grant just recently arrived. A lot of work to be done, but a few glimpses of its usefulness can already be seen.

The full functionality will encompass the following areas:

  • observation planning tools tailored to moving objects,
  • photometry models for resolved and unresolved observations,
  • wrappers and tools for astrometry and orbit fitting,
  • spectroscopy analysis tools and models for reflected solar light and emission from gas,
  • cometary gas and dust coma simulation and analysis tools,
  • asteroid thermal models for flux estimation and size/albedo estimation,
  • image enhancement tools for comet comae and PSF subtraction tools,
  • lightcurve and shape analysis tools, and
  • access tools for various databases for orbital and physical data, as well as ephemerides services.

If you are interested in using/testing/contributing to sbpy, check out our website and github repo for more information.


  • Mommert, M., Kelley, M. S. P., de Val-Borro, M., Li, J.-Y., Guzman, G., Sipocz, B., Durech, J., Granvik, M., Grundy, W., Moskovitz, N., Penttilä, A., & Samarasinha, N. (2019), “sbpy: Small-body planetary astronomy”, Astrophysics Source Code Library, ascl:1907.014., arxiv